Jean Elizabeth Brown Sawtelle died peacefully on Thursday December 20th in Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
She was the daughter of Everett and Nellie Brown, originally of Fredericton Junction, New Brunswick, and wife of the late Joseph G. Sawtelle of Portsmouth, NH. She was born on March 7, 1929 and although raised in Melrose, MA, she was always proud of her Canadian heritage and spent childhood summers on her grandfather's farm with her Canadian cousins. After graduating from Melrose High School, she married her high school sweetheart and began raising a family, attending Northeastern University, and helping her husband on many real estate endeavors.
By nature Jean was warm, curious, energetic, and compassionate--a real "people person." She was proud to be a deacon and choir member of the New Castle Congregational Church. She also enjoyed being a member of the Red Hat Society. She dearly loved her adopted Seacoast community and spent a quarter century working with Joe to reunite a collection of art and artifacts for a Portsmouth maritime museum whose foundations had been laid near the Albacore Submarine at his untimely death in 2000. Jean was very philanthropic and a great supporter of the Futures Program, the Air Program in Dover as well as many other local organizations.
Further afield, Jean developed a passion for the Inuit peoples, whose artistic heritage she revered and wanted to protect, and she also tirelessly explored her genealogical roots. In her later years, she traveled widely, loving above all the craggy, remote parts of the world. With Joe she visited not only her beloved Canada but also Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the Falklands and Easter Island. She was also one of the first visitors to China after it finally opened its doors to foreigners.
Being an only child had a lasting effect and family was the most important thing in Jean’s life. She was predeceased by her husband of 50 years in 2000. She is survived by her four daughters, Gayle Sawtelle of Belmont, MA, Susan Sawtelle, Janis Hancock, and Caryl Sawtelle, all of Rye, NH. She also leaves eight grandchildren, Joseph and Charlotte Maskin, Kimberly Jenlink, Elizabeth Carter, Jacob, Matthew and Emily Hancock and Sarah Sawtelle, two great grandchildren, Anna Carter and Oliver Jenlink, and her precious dog, Katherine “Katie” Elizabeth.
The family is planning a memorial service at New Castle Congregational Church on January 5th at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the administrative fund of the NH Charitable Foundation (446 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03810), to the New Castle Historical Society, or to New Castle Congregational Church.